All of the color illustrations to Old French Fairy Tales, Tanglewood Tales, and The Arabian Nights are presented here.
Coming Soon: The black and white illustrations, and board drawings.
E-cards Click on any gallery image to send that Sterrett as an e-postcard to a friend.
Where to Buy Virginia Frances Sterrett Art Prints: You can find Virginia Sterrett prints at . Three images from these illustrations can be downloaded there in PDF format -- suitable for printing.
Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900-1931) was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1900. She was an introverted child who preferred the world of imagination and drawing to social interaction with other children at school. When her father died, her family moved to Missouri to live near relatives. While she was living in the heartland, she won several awards at the Kansas State Fair (c. 1913), an event that encouraged her to focus even more on drawing.
In 1915, Virginia and her family returned to Chicago. She started high school with the intention to study art but soon migrated to the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was admitted on a complete scholarship. Virginia left the Institute little more than a year later, when her mother became ill. Virginia became the sole support of her family, working in art advertising agencies around Chicago.
It was not long before her own health began to fail; she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Her first commission came in 1919. She was commissioned by Penn Publishing Company to illustrate the Comptesse de Ségur's Old French Fairy Tales. She was 19 and received $500 for the eight watercolors and 16 pen and ink drawings, with a supplemental $250 for a colored drawing for the cover and ink drawings for the end papers and boards. This was quickly followed by another commission for Tanglewood Tales from the same publisher, Penn Publishing Company.
In 1923, the family moved to the warmer climate of southern California, making their home in Altadena, nestled at the foot of the San Gabriel mountains just north of Pasadena. There was a slight improvement in her health, but it didn't last and she entered Compton Sanitorium. Her health was now curtailing her work and she could only draw for a short time eat day. She started a new series of illustrations for Arabian Nights but the declining state of her health, it took three years to complete. The Arabian Nights, her last published works, are considered her masterpiece.
Between 1929 and 1930, Virginia's health improved slightly and she was able to move home with her family. She exhibited locally at the Little Gallery in Monrovia, California; and entered competitions at the Los Angeles County Fair and the California State Fair.
In 1930, Virginia began work on her last commission, a series of illustration for Myths and Legends. This commission was never completed; her health took a turn for the worse and she died on June 8, 1931. She was 30 years old.
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